Book Launch Results

My Writing Journey (1)

In my post nearly a month ago, I asked, “Is there such thing as a perfect book launch?” You can get caught up by reading it HERE.

My newest novel, Blood & Holy Water, launched April, 4th. I had done a ton of research on successful launch techniques and devised the best launch I was capable of.

I promised to circle back and let you know how it went.

The good news: It was the best launch I’ve ever had! (Okay, okay. It’s only my second one.) I hit #17 on one amazon best seller’s list and #3053 in the overall Kindle store.

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After everything I did, here’s what my sales graph looks like for this novel for the past 3 weeks. It was priced at 99 cents for most the time. The first chart (in red) is number of units sold and the bottom chart (in blue) is Kindle page reads. (Each page read equates to about half a cent of revenue.)

book launch

On April 22nd, I raised the price to $2.99 and you can see the drop off in sales. We’ll see how this goes.

My key points I’m taking with me to my next launch:

  1. Kindle Scout: I had been on the fence about the Kindle Scout program. Overall, it netted me at least eight newsletter subscribers and twenty-nine book sales. Granted, some of these were family and friends that had voted for me, but there were still at least 29 sales from this program. Even better would have been if my novel was accepted. I still will do Kindle Scout next time…Maybe I should be embarrassed my book wasn’t picked, but I’m not. They only pick 3% of submitted books anyway.
  2. My Newsletter: This was a ROCK STAR!!! I sold another twenty-eight novels PLUS I found advanced readers to post reviews. Overall, I went live with about fifteen really good reviews on this book.
  3. Pre-publish a Paperback: MUST-DO to collect advanced reviews.
  4. Well-planned launch week. I sold 227 books the first week…though, this does not break even, it is SO NICE to see my book in so many people’s hands. My launch promotion was still spread a little thin. Next time, I’ll pile everything on 3-5 days to build up my ranking using a combo of free and paid advertising.
  5. Also, surprisingly I found Facebook ads helped for the book priced at 99 cents (though, I took a loss with each sale, I was trying to build up my ranking.) Now that my books $2.99, the ads don’t work as well.

The so-so things:

  1. My Newsletter: yeah, it also had some downsides. I felt it was a little self-promoty without building a relationship with all my subscribers first. I blogged about my panic HERE.
  2. Amazon giveaways to grow a following on Amazon: Maybe a handful of sales. This is probably’s not worth it.
  3. Goodreads giveaway to build up the “to read” list. I dunno. It only costed $8 and had nearly 700 people add it to their “to read” list. I’m uncertain if this turns into anything.
  4. Newsletter swaps/cross promos. So-so results at the expense of tiring out your own readers promoting other’s books.

The bad stuff: Do I really need bad stuff?

I still didn’t break even with money…but again, it’s still cheaper than many other hobbies…cheaper than a latte every morning.

Pre-publishing Costs: $335 ($105 of this was spent towards trying to find a cover I liked. I used fiverr, bought photos, etc because I just couldn’t find something I was happy with. This is part of the reason I’m leaning towards finding my own graphic designer for future novels…2018 goals.)

Publishing Promotion Costs/Advertising for Launch Week: $167 (I accidentally book an extra promo site for $40, as I thought I had been denied and forgot about it.) Next time: only $100!

Sales Since Launch: $208 (286 ebooks, 5 paperbacks, 21,155 page reads) PLUS extra promo for Love, Lies & Clones $24 (28 books, 2404 page reads) Total: $222

So…not counting pre-publishing costs, I made $55. When you add in pre-publishing costs, I’m in the hole…$280, which is about the same as Love, Lies & Clones three weeks after release, BUT it’s in the hands of a ton more readers! Win. Win. Win. (Since my goal is simply for people to read my stuff.)

I probably overspent on the launch…just like I did with my Kindle Countdown deal for Love, Lies & Clones. Oh well…it’s an experiment. Now, when The Secret Lives of the Superheroes’ Wives is ready to publish this fall, I’ll be one step closer to the “perfect” launch.

Thanks for sharing in my journey.

–Joy

Planning the “PERFECT” Book Launch

My Writing Journey (1)

Is there such thing as a perfect book launch?

I have my new novel, Blood & Holy Water, set to launch this week. I’ve done a pile of reading, listened to as many podcasts and webinars as I could find, and spoke with other indie authors on successful techniques.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, just hitting the “publish” button does not bring in sales for a novel. It takes some work (and, perhaps, some magic.)

I know I don’t have the secret formula here, but here’s how I lined up my release.

Pre-Launch:

  • Built up my email list / mailing list. I began my push in January, with a real focus in February. Now, I’m up to nearly 1500 subscribers. (You can see how I did this in my 1000 “True” Fans Blog Series.) I’ll email this list during my launch and cross my fingers for some interest in Blood & Holy Water.
  • Kindle Scout program. This was a way to extend my reach / distribution list in a different way. I had 1400 people view my campaign page and Amazon will send those that voted for my book a notification that it’s available at launch. I’ve already had eight people sign up for my mailing list due to the campaign. We’ll see if it helps launch day. If not, I may be done with this program.
  • I hosted a few Amazon Giveaways of my last novel. To qualify for the giveaway, you needed to follow my author page. Amazon then sends notification out to my followers when I publish new books. (You can check out how this looks HERE.) (Of note, I think they already sent out notification of the pre-order which returned 3 or 4 sales.) Here’s a post on how to set this up.
  • I started distributing Advanced Reader Copies 6 weeks ago so I’d have some reviews on launch day (social proof). This is working as I have 9 fantastic reviews up on Amazon so far.
  • Published the paperback so I can collect these reviews from my Advanced Readers. (You can’t leave a review on a pre-order.)
  • Since I have a paperback version, I created a Goodreads Giveaway building up Blood & Holy Water’s “to read” list. After publishing Love, Lies & Clones, I said I wouldn’t do this again…but I did with only one copy this time. (HERE‘s that giveaway, if you’d like to see how that looks.)
  • Coordinated my launch schedule — see below — booking places to advertise and coordinating cross-promotion. I understand, the way Amazon’s algorithm works, you want a few days of steady sales for Amazon to notice you. I chose to spread the heart of my my launch over five days.
  • Put my book up on pre-order so I can make sure the blurb, categories, etc are okay. I am not advertising this pre-order because they don’t help you out on Amazon (actually, they can hurt you if they pull away sales from launch day. I did this wrong last time.)
  • Got an Amazon Marketing Service (AMS) ad ready for the new book. It takes time to put in the 1000 keywords.

Launch:

This is what I have planned this week for my launch. I don’t know if it’ll work…I’m pricing the book at 99 cents for most (perhaps all) of April, since I’m a no-name author and am trying to build up ranking. I tried $2.99 with my other book, Love, Lies & Clones for a few days and sales suffered. I know I may be throwing money away doing this, but I’m afraid to go at $2.99. If the novel does well, I might try to vary the pricing on the days I don’t have promos. Not on this list is I’m also running a discount on my other novel, with hopes that maybe there’ll be some cross-promotion between the two.

  • Tuesday 4/4: Launch day! I’m not pushing the book yet. I want to make sure everything looks good before I go that route. I will notify Kindle Scout of the release so they can send out their email to those that nominated me. This is more of an experiment, as I want to see if the Kindle Scout Program brings book sales. (Free, so far.)
  • Wednesday 4/5: Notify my Facebook followers. Get a post ready to boost later this week. Ask for shares to extend my reach. Also, a review forum I belong to, http://www.critters.org, will send out a notification to the other members late this night. Will also use twitter, instagram, and tumblr, mostly to prepare posts for use of co-promote later this week. Alert Reader’s Gazette of Bargain. (Note, all of this is free.)
  • Thursday 4/6: Headtalker campaign (free) and Booksends / eReader IQ ($35). What (Shameless plug: You can support my HeadTalker campaign HERE, if you’d like.)
  • Friday 4/7: Bargain Booksy $40 & People Reads $9  and my newsletter goes out (1500 subscribers) and an email from a critique forum I belong to (critters.org) that critiqued the novel. Also, will start using copromote to extend my reach.
  • Saturday 4/8: Free Kindle Books & Tips $25. I will also boost a Facebook post to people that like my page, their friends, and upload my newsletter email list. http://www.critters.org will also resend my info to the group.
  • Sunday 4/9: Resend my newsletter to non-openers as a “Thank-you for your support” email. Awesomegang $10 & SweetFreeBooks $7
  • Monday 4/10: BK Knights $11. I’m participating in a cross-promotion for Science Fiction & Fantasy Books priced at 99 cents. 4/10 through 4/16.

Post-Launch:

I may add to this list as opportunities arise. I want to keep the momentum going (if possible.)

Second week post-launch:

  • Tuesday 4/11: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo
  • Wednesday 4/12: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo and resend my newsletter to non-openers through a different mail program (Mailerlite instead of Mailchimp) trying to get as many opens as possible.
  • Thursday 4/13 through Sunday 4/16: SF&F 99 Cent Cross Promo

Third week post-launch:

  • Wednesday 4/19: Multi-genre indie author cross promo 99 cents
  • Thursday 4/20: Multi-genre indie author cross promo 99 cents and a newsletter swap with another indie author

Fourth week post-launch:

  • Saturday 4/29: Fussy Librarian $22

I had heard that spending about $100 on a launch is helpful for the Amazon algorithms to kick in. (Even though that means I need to sell an impossible 432 books just to break even with this.) For my last book (Love, Lies & Clones) I spent virtually nothing on the launch and wanted to try something different with this novel. This whole thing is an experiment anyway. Maybe I’ll get it right when I release my next novel, The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives.

As always, I’ll make sure to update you with results. I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect launch, and what works for some won’t work for others, but, hey, it’s fun to try. 🙂

If you’re interested in how my last launch went (for Love, Lies & Clones), you can check out my blog posts here: 30 Days Post-Launch, 60 Days Post-Launch, 90 Days Post-Launch.

I’m always looking for advice. What am I missing?